Ballet News Reviews | Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Aladdin

Ballet News Reviews | Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Aladdin

Birmingham Royal Ballet - Aladdin - photo by Bill Cooper
Birmingham Royal Ballet – Aladdin – photo by Bill Cooper

Birmingham Royal Ballet


London Coliseum

Wednesday, 20th March 2013

Bedazzled, with bells on. That’s how you’ll feel if you watch Birmingham Royal Ballet’s spectacular Aladdin, choreographed by David Bintley, with its sumptuous costumes by Sue Blane (yes, some of them had snakes wound around their torsos), a crescent moon, flying carpet, rattling sabres, a lion, the Djinn of the Lamp, and even the Desert Winds. Plus – and this is a big plus – the dancer’s hairpieces were extravagant to the point of being sequinned. This may not be ballet with a lot of depth or drama – it was never intended to be – but the dancing never stops and it is very, very good. Bintley made this ballet for the National Ballet of Japan, and the production has only been very lightly tweaked for this tour.

The ballet rattles through at such a pace that the Desert Winds have barely blown and we’re surrounded by jewels. Stand-out of the night was the duet in Rubies, danced by Ambra Vallo and the extraordinary Tyrone Singleton, who threw her around as though she were a five pence piece.

Aladdin’s Mother was danced by the incomparable Marion Tait, who never missed an opportunity to charm, even from the back of the stage. César Morales bounced through Aladdin’s steps and his partnering with the Princess Badr al-Budur – Nao Sakuma – was solid. She has an ethereal quality, supreme flexibility in her back and a beautiful line.

Natasha Oughtred danced the Sapphire variation with fluidity and grace, Céline Gittens more than dazzled in the Diamond variation and each of the Desert Winds conjoured up just the right mood. They were : Laura Davenport, Reina Fuchigami, Laura-Jane Gibson, Yvette Knight, Delia Mathews, Kristen McGarrity, Callie Roberts and Yijing Zhang. The Gold and Silver variations were spot on – very precisely danced with some tricky partnering made easy by Samara Downs, Victoria Marr, Feargus Campbell and Steven Monteith. Aladdin’s friends – James Barton and Mathias Dingman – really did entertain.

Special mention to Tzu-Chao-Chou as the Djinn of the Lamp. He might have been unrecognisable in blue face paint and skull-cap but my goodness he can rip across the stage and take you with him. He was properly exceptional.

The ballet itself – a co-production with Houston Ballet – is a vibrant and scented roller-coaster ride. Starting among the fakirs in a scene infused with aromatic spices and rattling on through the desert, a cave, a bathhouse and a royal court, there’s time for a quick trip home as well. Carl Davis’ music whisks you along at the speed of light and it’s all lit to perfection, fully supporting the choreography – especially the bathhouse scene – by Mark Jonathan.

Sometimes on a press night – often, in fact – there is a palpable tension in the air as the dancers find their feet, and you can multiply that exponentially for a new production with lots of technical detail. Not tonight. The dancers of the Company are on tip-top form, and have never looked better; every one of them in sync and a joy to watch. Go; before Sunday. And take the family. Who doesn’t want sequins in their hair ?

Aladdin is in rep until Sunday 24th March. Please note that there is strobe lighting in some scenes.